Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Huey Lewis: Face of the Steroid Era

Late last week, it was reported that an indictment of San Francisco Giants star Barry Bonds could be forthcoming. The potential indictment would relate to charges of perjury and tax evasion stemming from Bonds’s 2003 grand jury testimony regarding the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO). However, it is time to shift the focus to the real culprit in the performance-enhancing drugs controversy. Rather than Bonds, that individual is another star from the Bay Area. 80s pop icon Huey Lewis is the true face of the steroid era.

Huey Lewis & The News launched the steroid era in 1983 with their song “I Want A New Drug.” The tune blatantly expressed a need for new designer steroids that would beat drug testing. Without the influence of this irresistible pop confection, few athletes would have had any desire to use performance-enhancing substances. Today legislators are clamoring to remove drugs from sports. In 1983, Huey Lewis & The News brazenly put drugs into Sports, their #1 album.

The song’s success inspired Victor Conte to found BALCO in 1984. During the 1970s, Conte had actually played with The Tower of Power, which served as the horn section for Huey Lewis & The News from 1982 to 1994. Conte and Lewis shared a dream to spread the gospel of performance-enhancing substances through music. Lewis had failed in his previous attempt at this goal with the short-lived band, Steroid-Popping Accordion Gods.

The synergy between BALCO and Huey Lewis reaped huge rewards in 1985 with the Back To The Future soundtrack. "The Power of Love" became a #1 smash, with “Love” being a euphemism for Stanozolol. Huey’s obsession with performance-enhancing drugs was shared by BALCO chemist and film star Doc Brown. Onscreen, Brown was fixated on time travel, but most of the doc’s work in his laboratory was devoted to developing steroids. He succeeded in bringing such substances back to 1955, when ‘roid rage inspired George McFly to finally knock out Biff. However, the use of steroids backfired, as they made George sterile and kept his son Marty from ever being born.

Huey and his mates further thumbed their nose at the anti-drug forces in 1986 with their #1 hit “Stuck With You.” When he crooned, “I’m so happy to be stuck with you,” Lewis was singing to his favorite syringe. He also was responsible for the development of HGH, which stands for Huey Growth Hormone. However, despite the mountain of evidence against him, his adoring public still refused to believe that Lewis was leading the steroid movement. The fans would not accept the idea that rock and roll could be infiltrated by drugs.

The sinister influence of Huey Lewis on sports has been particularly problematic for Bud Selig and his fellow commissioners. Selig consistently denounces Lewis, an avid San Francisco Giants fan, but his authority to punish someone who has never played major league baseball is severely limited. He has banned the group from performing the national anthem at Giants games and has ordered AT&T Park personnel not to show Huey and his wife on the Kiss-cam. The commissioner is also consulting advisers on whether he can punish San Francisco players named Lewis. If so, the 1994 Gold Glove for outfielder Darren Lewis could be revoked.

In any case, it is time for the commissioner to invoke the “best interests of the game” clause and ban Huey Lewis from baseball for life. It is true that Huey has never failed an MLB drug test, and that other members of The News were part of his conspiracy. However, he was the one in the spotlight - getting the girl in the music videos – and therefore he is entitled to a greater penalty than his mates. If the lifetime ban does not make Lewis feel remorse, there’s one punishment that is guaranteed to do so. Lock him in a room for four hours and play a continuous loop of “Hip To Be Square.”